Huskies Look for Fourth-Straight Win; Host Western Michigan Wednesday

GO HUSKIES Anderson ripped down 10 rebounds at Ball State Saturday.
GO HUSKIES
Anderson ripped down 10 rebounds at Ball State Saturday.
GO HUSKIES

Jan. 12, 2010

NORTHERN ILLINOIS (5-8, 1-0 MAC) VS. WESTERN MICHIGAN (9-5, 1-0 MAC) » January 13, 2010 » Convocation Center » DeKalb, Ill. » 7 p.m.

Match-Up At-a-Glance
Arena: Convocation Center (9,100)
Tip-off: 7 p.m. Central Standard Time
Radio: Northern Illinois ISP Sports Network (Flagship WLBK, 1360, DeKalb)
Cybercast: Huskie All-Access
Live Stats: NIUHuskies.com (Gametracker)
Social Media Coverage: Twitter.com/NIUAthletics; Twitter.com/MACMBBall
Series Record/Streak: Western Michigan leads, 45-28/W1

Game Notes as Downloadable PDF Get Acrobat Reader

DEKALB, Ill. - Two winning streaks will be on the line Wednesday night, when the Northern Illinois men's basketball team (5-8, 1-0 MAC) entertains visiting Western Michigan (9-5, 1-0) at the Convocation Center beginning at 7 p.m. The Huskies have won three-straight, and four-of-five overall, while the Broncos enter the contest having captured five-straight victories.

NIU is coming off last Saturday's 62-48 win at Ball State in the Mid-American Conference opener for both teams. Junior guard Xavier Silas poured in a game-high 25 points with a single-game school record 15-15 effort from the free throw line, and the Huskies held the Cardinals to just a 16-59 (.271) effort from the field. The win marked NIU's second-consecutive on the road, the first time the Huskies accomplished that feat since March 2006.

Silas also corralled a career-high nine rebounds in the game. Joining him in double figures was sophomore forward Michael Fakuade, who scored 10 points, including the first eight of the game. Junior guard Darion "Jake" Anderson posted his fifth double-digit rebounding output of the season, corralling a game-high 10 rebounds to go along with five points, two assists and two steals.

NEXT UP ...
Northern Illinois will continue its homestand on Saturday (Jan. 16) when MAC-West foe Eastern Michigan visits the Convocation Center for a 1 p.m. contest. The Eagles are off to an 8-6 start this season, but fell to host Western Michigan in the MAC opener, 61-47, last Saturday (Jan. 9). The Eagles are 2-4 on the road this season.

GAME DATA
Northern Illinois will be looking to start out 2-0 in Mid-American Conference play for the first time since re-joining the league prior to the 1997-98 season -- the last time the Huskies recorded a 2-0 start to a conference slate was during the 1995-96 season, as a member of the Mid-Continent Conference ... Northern Illinois is 41-42 at the Convocation Center since playing its first game at the facility on Nov. 23, 2002 ... The Huskies have compiled a 21-29 record against MAC opponents at the Convocation Center over those seven seasons ... NIU posted a 75-51 win over Toledo in its MAC home opener last season (1/12/09) ... The Huskies recorded a 78-63 win over the Broncos at home last season (2/25/09) ... Head coach Ricardo Patton owns a 143-62 home record as a college head coach, dating back to his 12-year run at Colorado ... Junior guard Darion "Jake" Anderson, who played his 70th career game last Saturday at Ball State, is approaching several milestones -- along with chasing 1,000 points (966), Anderson is also nearing 200 career assists (188) and 400 rebounds (396) -- he would be just the second NIU player in the Division I era to accomplish that feat ... Senior forward Najul Ervin enters the Ball State game with 193 points, and is seven tallies away from becoming the third active NIU player to boast at least 200 career points and 200 rebounds -- he would join Anderson and Sean Kowal in that department ... Kowal enters Wednesday's game with 394 points in his one-plus year career at NIU; he is just six points away from securing his 400th career tally.

WITH A WIN, NIU WOULD ...
» Record its first four-game winning streak since tallying the feat three times during the 2005-06 campaign
» Start out 2-0 in Mid-American Conference play for just the third time as a MAC member, and the first time since re-joining the league prior to the 1997-98 season
» Record its second-straight win over WMU in DeKalb, and improve to 4-0 in the month of January

WITH A LOSS, NIU WOULD ...
» Drop to 3-3 at home this season
» Lose its second MAC contest of the season for the fourth time in the past five years
» Fall to Western Michigan in DeKalb for the second time in the last three seasons

SCOUTING THE HUSKIES
Northern Illinois enters Wednesday's game with a 5-8 overall record, and is off to a 1-0 start in Mid-American Conference play. The Huskies are 3-0 in the month of January, and have out-scored those opponents by more than 13 points per game. NIU is 3-3 at home this season, with wins over Tennessee State (11/20/09), Maryland Eastern Shore (12/22/09) and North Dakota (1/2/2010).

The Huskies are being led offensively by junior guard Xavier Silas, who is averaging a team-high 19.1 points per game in eight starts this season. Junior backcourt mate Darion "Jake" Anderson has provided 10.2 points and a team-high 7.3 rebounds per contest while shooting nearly 43 percent (.422) from the field, and almost 71 percent (.708) from the free throw line. Junior center Sean Kowal has added 9.2 points and 5.2 rebounds per game on a 50.9 percent effort from the field.

NIU is averaging 63.8 points per game, and allowing its opponents to score 67.8 points per contest. The Huskies are shooting 40.2 percent from the field, 27.8 percent from three-point range and 60.1 percent from the free throw line. NIU is out-rebounding its opponents by more than two caroms (+2.8) per game, and is averaging 16.8 turnovers per contest.

At home, the Huskies are averaging 68.5 points per game, and are out-rebounding their opponents by more than four per game, 38.8-34.5. Silas is averaging 23.0 points in three home games, while Anderson is scoring 13.3 points and pulling down 8.7 rebounds per home contest.

SCOUTING THE BRONCOS
Western Michigan, which defeated visiting Eastern Michigan (61-47) in the MAC opener for both teams last Saturday, is 9-5 on the season, and has won five-straight games. The Broncos are 1-3 on the road, posting a 69-58 win at Eastern Illinois on Dec. 9, 2009.

Senior guard David Kool paces the Broncos offensively, averaging a MAC-best 19.8 points per game while shooting 43.5 percent from the field and 90 percent from the free throw line. Martelle McLemore is scoring 11.8 points to go along with a team-high 5.9 rebounds per contest, while Flenard Whitfield is averaging 10.4 points per game.

Western Michigan is averaging 68.7 points per game, and allowing its opponents to score 64.0 points per contest. The Broncos lead the MAC in free throw percentage (.726), defensive field goal percentage (.388) and rebounding margin (+6.3).

SILAS CLAIMS SECOND-STRAIGHT MAC-WEST PLAYER OF THE WEEK HONOR
Junior guard Xavier Silas is quickly becoming a familiar name at the Mid-American Conference headquarters. After averaging 24.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and three assists per game in a pair of road wins last week, Silas was named the MAC-West Player of the Week for the period ending Jan. 10, the league office announced Monday morning.

Silas has now claimed two-straight Player of the Week plaudits, and has also chalked up one MAC Scholar-Athlete of the Week honor (Dec. 29, 2009). He is the first Huskie to earn back-to-back MAC Player of the Week honors since Matt Hicks accomplished the feat during the 1976-77 season (Feb. 1-Feb. 8, 1977).

Silas' scoring output came on a 40 percent (10-25) effort from the field, and a near 90 percent (.893) clip in 28 attempts from the free throw line. He tallied 24 points at Chicago State (1/6/2010), and poured in 25 points (15-15 FT line) with a career-high tying nine rebounds at Ball State (1/9/2010).

START ME UP, COACH
Northern Illinois head coach Ricardo Patton has used six different starting combinations this season, but seems to have found the lineup that will lead NIU in the foreseeable future, and for good reason. The Huskies' starting combination of Darion "Jake" Anderson, Mike DiNunno, Xavier Silas, Michael Fakuade and Lee Fisher has compiled a 4-1 record in the past five games.

GETTING DEFENSIVE
Twice in the past three games, Northern Illinois has held its opponent to a 30 percent or less effort from the field. Ball State finished the game just 16-of-59 (.271) from the field at Worthen Arena last Saturday, while the Huskies limited North Dakota to just 12 field goals (12-of-40) and a 30 percent shooting effort in their last home game (1/2/2010).

SILAS' SURGE
Junior guard Xavier Silas' impact on Northern Illinois' success through the first 13 games of the season has certainly not gone unnoticed. Four-of the Huskies' five wins this season have come with Silas in the lineup (he sat out five games with a fractured shooting hand suffered in the season opener at Northwestern), and NIU is averaging five more points, over two more rebounds and nearly three more assists per game than the contests he did not appear in. The Huskies' free throw percentage this seson has also improved from a 54 percent clip to a 63 percent mark with Silas in the lineup. Silas has scored 24 or more points in each of the last four games.

CHASING 1,000
The countdown has officially begun. Junior guard Darion "Jake" Anderson enters Wednesday's game with 966 career points, and is just 34 tallies away from becoming the 28th player in NIU history to score 1,000 or more points. If he accomplishes the feat this season, Anderson would be just the 15th player in the NIU basketball annals to reach the 1,000-point plateau before the end of his third season. Anderson is the Huskies' career active leader in points, rebounds (396), assists (188), steals (84), field goals (321), three-point field goals (75) and free throws (249) made, and total minutes played (2,125/30.4 mpg).

BUILDING THE CONVINCING LEADS
In each of the Huskies' last four wins, which have all occurred in the last 19 days, Northern Illinois has built at least a 16-point lead. NIU led by a game-high 19 points with just over eight minutes remaining against Maryland Eastern Shore (12/22/09), built a 23-point lead in the first half versus North Dakota (1/2/2010), was up by 28 points at Chicago State (1/6/2010), and led by 16 points late in last Saturday's 62-48 road win over Ball State.

ONE OF THE NATION'S BEST
Junior Darion "Jake" Anderson, one of the Mid-American Conference's most consistent scorers the past two seasons, has seen his scoring average dip by more than six points per game this season, but has been on a tear in the rebounding department. The 6-foot-2 guard currently boasts the nation's best rebounding average for a player standing 6-foot-2 or less (7.1 rpg). Anderson became just the third NIU guard in the Division I era to lead the Huskies in rebounding last season.

STEALIN' THE SHOW
The Huskies finished the 2008-09 season with 239 steals, which was the second-highest single-season total in program history, trailing just the 259 steals recorded during the 1994-95 campaign. NIU's 8.0 steal per game average was also the third-best total for a single-season. Darion "Jake" Anderson (46 steals) and Mike DiNunno (44) combined for 90 steals, with both efforts ranking in the top-15 individual marks in NIU history. This season, NIU is averaging 7.6 steals per game, which would qualify as the seventh-best single-season average in program history.

POINT `N SHOOT
As simple as it may sound, the Northern Illinois men's basketball team is at its best when it is shooting the ball well. The Huskies are 5-0 when shooting a better percentage than their opponent this season, and 19-6 over the past three campaigns.

DOUBLE-DOUBLE TROUBLE
Northern Illinois' junior tandem of Darion "Jake" Anderson and Sean Kowal have posted a combined three double-doubles in the early going this season. Anderson's sixth-career double-double (15 points, 10 rebounds) came against Maryland Eastern Shore (12/22/09), while Kowal secured his third-career double-double (18 points, 10 rebounds) in the previous contest versus Tennessee State (Nov. 20). Anderson also tallied a double-double with 23 points and 13 rebounds against Southeast Missouri (11/22/09).

SEASON #15 FOR COACH "P"
Northern Illinois head coach Ricardo Patton will be embarking on his 15th season as a Division I head coach in the 2009-10 campaign. After spending 12 years as the mentor at Colorado, Patton was hired as the Huskies' 26th head coach on March 19, 2007.

FIRST-HALF SUCCESS IS KEY
As the old cliche' goes, it's not how you start, but how you finish. But how it starts may be just as important for the Northern Illinois basketball team. Under head coach Ricardo Patton, when the Huskies lead at halftime, they have compiled a record of 17-6. When NIU trails at intermission, it is just 3-42 the past two-plus seasons.

CONTROLLING THE BOARDS
When Northern Illinois has been on the positive side of the rebounding ledger the past two seasons, it has enjoyed significant success. Twenty of the Huskies' 21 wins under head coach Ricardo Patton have occurred when NIU has out-rebounded its opponent.

HUSKIES PICKED SECOND IN MAC-WEST
One year after being picked to finish sixth in the Mid-American Conference West Division, Northern Illinois was slotted second in the 2009-10 preseason media poll, as announced by the conference office on Oct. 28. In addition, junior guard Darion "Jake" Anderson was named to the preseason West Division All-MAC team for the second-consecutive season. The Huskies were picked second behind division favorite Central Michigan, who swept NIU last season.

 

 

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